Whilst a large turnout made it to the circuit for the Cat ¾ race, the E12 field compromised a small but select group of quality riders. Two teams were to feature strongly; London Phoenix brought a strong team of three cat 2 riders, and Redhill CC were represented by Dom and Ryan. The rest of the field were made up of Cat 2s, with one very strong Cat 1 rider with multiple Surrey league road race victories (and 400+ BC points) to his name in 2012. As always, the Redhill team decided to work together to keep the bunch under control. Aware of London Phoenix’s strength in numbers, it would be important to chased any individual breaks from them that went down the road whilst also covering the strong Cat 1 rider from any solo attempts. Dom took responsibility for managing the Phoenix attacks, whilst Ryan glued himself to the Cat 1’s wheel to prevent any escapes.
Decisions. With such an complex field, the Redhill riders knew that they’d need to move quickly to prevent either London Phoenix from playing any games (such as letting one of their riders drift off the front before clogging up any chase efforts) or the Cat 1 from escaping. Rolling through the first few laps, it became clear that Phoneix were well drilled, using their numbers to attack individually and then refusing to chase, before counterattacking once Dom and Ryan had pulled the lone riders back. It became clear that Redhill needed to split the Phoenix forces before the end of the race. At the halfway mark, a Phoenix rider began drifting off the front as his fellow team mates sat up from 2nd and 3rd wheel. Seeing the danger, Dom counter attacked and pulled the Phoenix rider with him. With no-one else in the pack willing to chase, Dom pulled out a gap of 30 seconds pretty quickly. Working in tandem with the Phoenix rider, they worked well to drag the gap out as riders in the pack looked at each other for a chase. Conscious that the Cat 1 had to get across to the break if he wanted to win, Ryan parked on his back wheel before following him as he attacked the bunch. Quickly, the two Phoenix riders began to chase, pulling the rest of the bunch with them. However, the attack by Dom had really kicked the hornets’ nest, ramping the pace up in the chasing bunch so high that it simply fell apart. Riders began to get gapped as the Phoenix team tried to follow the Cat 1 rider with Ryan in tow.
More decisions. With a team mate up the road, Ryan couldn’t chase, but he had to follow the Cat 1 rider. With a gap between the first chase group and main peloton, it became clear that he had to ride to keep the chasing group away, yet not too hard so as to close the gap on Dom. Thankfully, the decision was made for him as the Cat 1 rider stormed across the gap to bridge with Dom and the lead Phoenix rider.
Thanks to Dom’s strength, the lead Phoenix rider had buried himself to stay with him. The lead group now consisted of Dom, Ryan, the Cat 1 rider and now two Phoenix riders, one who had managed to bridge across after Ryan. Going into the final 20 minutes, Dom and Ryan knew they needed to soften up the other riders, so they continued to send attack followed by counter attacks up the road to force the Phoenix riders to chase. The pace was starting to tell on all but the Cat 1 rider who, with no team member in the group, was happy to follow wheels and save his legs for the sprint.
Going into the final lap, the pace slowed; two Phoenix riders placed themselves on the front, followed by Dom, then Ryan, then the Cat 1 riding shotgun on the back. At 500 metres out, the front Phoenix rider attacked. Unwilling to chase, Phoenix number 2 sat up, forcing Dom to start chasing hard, pulling Ryan and the Cat 1 up the final climb to the finish. After 150 metres of hard chasing, Ryan came passed Dom to hunt down the Phoenix rider still up the road. Feeling strong, Dom managed to chase onto the Cat 1’s wheel as he came passed. Just as the catch was made, the Cat 1 kicked for the line, coming past Ryan’s right shoulder. With 350 to go, it was a long way out, but Ryan was forced to wind it up to hold him level. From 200 metres out, Ryan managed to kick again, passing the Cat 1 rider and crossing ahead, three bike lengths up for his second win of the season and 6th win from the last 10 races.
Dom, super strong as always, came in 3rd, an excellent result after a long break away attempt, multiple attacks and then a 48kph uphill lead out for Ryan.
Making the right decisions at the right time meant the Redhill riders could outthink and outperform a larger rival team to take yet another Redhill CC victory.